A startling performance of the feminist anthem heard around the world has come to Harvey Weinstein’s trial.
A crowd of about 60 women, some from political action groups across New York City, performed "Un Violador en tu Camino," or "A Rapist in Your Path" in front of the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse on Friday, where the disgraced Hollywood mogul—whose alleged heinous actions helped ignite the #MeToo movement—appeared for another day of his trial. The demonstration, which includes lyrics like, “Y la culpa no era mía / ni dónde estaba / ni cómo vestía.” (And the fault was not mine / nor where I was / nor how I was dressed.), was coordinated by the feminist art group Las Tesis.
The performance, which was sung in both the original Spanish and translated English, involved the women pointing toward judges, police, and other institutions that repeatedly fail survivors of sexual assault. Perhaps most hauntingly, the group ended pointing toward the courthouse, chanting, “El violador eres tú,” or "The rapist is you.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, these demonstrations began in LasTesis's home base in Valparaíso, Chile, in November, and has since been performed in various corners of the globe, including Colombia, France, India, and Turkey, as well as the United States.
Zakiyah Ansari, one of the protesters on Centre Street, said she was there to signal to “our sisters around the globe, to tell them ‘we hear you, we see you.’ This is what we do, this is what women do.”
“What makes this event so powerful,” she added, “is that each and every one of us—male, female, however you identify—we all know someone, if we’re not personally impacted by a sexual assault.”
Mikal Finkelstein, who like Ansari came as part of a women’s activist group, told VICE she doesn’t speak Spanish, and doesn’t identify as a performer, but saw this as an act of bravery and camaraderie.
“I think that the message and the vehicle, and the way that it imparts the message is pretty powerful, using not only our voices but also our bodies, in a very appealing and kind of cool-looking dance,” she said. “This is using femininity in order to [signal] that this whole system is just not supportive of women, and oppressive.”
So far LasTesis's protests have been in reaction to draconian policies that stifle women's rights and reproductive freedom. Here, it was a stark reminder of a criminal justice system that has fielded complaints about Weinstein's conduct but was prompted to finally pursue a case once the District Attorney faced public pressure after dozens of stories were reported to the media. Weinstein has been publicly accused of sexual misconduct, abuse, or rape by 80 women. The trial in New York is based on the allegations made by two women, but Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey announced charges for Weinstein allegedly raping a woman and sexually assaulting another woman in 2013.
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